RTC Conference Primers: #18 – Mid-American Conference

Posted by nvr1983 on October 18th, 2011

This conference primer was prepared by the RTC staff. If you are knowledgeable about the MAC and have an interest in becoming the correspondent for this league, please e-mail us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • The Freshman Grow Up. After having 15 freshman start for MAC teams last year, this year promises a more balanced, less chaotic version of basketball as many of those freshmen will have matured (although we know that is not always the case). With increased experience, the MAC promises to offer a higher quality of basketball with less inconsistency across its teams. It also bodes well for the conference’s futures as many of these players are expected to be four-year players so even if the conference is not loaded this year it has the potential to be very strong in another year or two.
  • Three Team Battle at the Top. While the MAC has traditionally been a wild conference, there appears to be three teams this year – Akron, Kent State, and Western Michigan – as the class of the conference. While the Zips and Golden Flashes return quite a bit of experience and waged a hard-fought game in the conference tournament finals that was decided on a last second block, the Broncos field a young team with plenty of potential. They are probably a step below the other two teams, but this trio is most likely several levels above the rest of the conference.

Can Akron Do It Again? (AP/M. Duncan)

  • Can the MAC Get an At-Large? As mentioned earlier, the conference has traditionally been a wild one, which means that the team that wins the regular season will not necessarily win the conference tournament (Kent State the past two years). The question is whether a team from the MAC can establish a strong enough regular season resume to earn an NCAA at-large bid. The truth is that we aren’t sure, but at least the three teams already highlighted are trying to play good non-conference schedules, which should boost their strength of schedule come Selection Sunday. Western Michigan has the toughest schedule with a home game against Temple (November 17), at Purdue (November 23), at Gonzaga (November 26 listed as a “neutral site” game in Spokane), at Detroit (December 8), at Oakland (December 23), and at Duke (December 30). Akron has games at Mississippi State (November 9), home against Detroit (November 26), at West Virginia (November 28), and at home against Virginia Commonwealth (December 29). Kent State isn’t quite as impressive, but still has games at West Virginia (November 15) and at Utah State (November 22).
  • How Bad Will Toledo Be? We usually don’t like kicking a team when it is down, but the Rockets might end up having one of the worst teams in Division I this year. Last year they were 4-28 overall and 1-15 in the conference while finishing 344th in Division I in scoring and that was before they had their scholarships cut from 13 to 10 due to poor APR scores and they lost their top returning scorer Malcolm Griffin and Hayden Humes to transfer and Justin Moss retired after being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart). So basically this team is going to be really, really bad.
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Morning Five: 08.01.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 1st, 2011

  1. The big story of the weekend was Duke announcing that they would be looking into a potential recruiting violation by Mike Krzyzewski. According to reports, Coach K offered Alex Poythress, a 6’7″ forward in the class of 2012, a scholarship last Tuesday night which fell between his team being eliminated from an AAU Super Showcase  and when they started playing in AAU Nationals the following day. Duke has asked the NCAA for clarification on the rule and stated that it will accept whatever punishment that NCAA deems necessary.  We already stated our opinion on Twitter that this is a non-story as long as the NCAA doesn’t enforce its own rules. If Duke gets any punishment, we would expect it to be very light (and not just because they are Duke, but because the NCAA goes light on far worse infractions).
  2. Back in June, Rodney Purvis, one of the top recruits in the class of 2012, backed out of his commitment to Louisville after assistant coach Tim Fuller left to go to Missouri. At the time, Purvis stated that he was only considering three schools and Louisville wasn’t one of them. Now it appears that Purvis might be considering the Cardinals again after Duke, one of the three schools he was considering (Missouri and North Carolina State are the others), stopped recruiting him. The basic lesson here is that you shouldn’t pay too much attention to recruiting until the players actually sign. Recruiting updates are great for page views and soliciting alumni donations, but in the end we are dealing with teenagers, who as we all know can change their minds at any time.
  3. Yesterday, USA Basketball announced its 14 finalists for the Men’s World University Games team. The final cuts for the 12-man roster will be made prior to August 8th, the date that the team leaves for China. While the names aren’t exactly a list of the biggest stars in college, it appears to be surprisingly well-rounded. This doesn’t mean that they are necessarily going to take home the gold, but with a solid coaching staff (Matt Painter at the helm backed by Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart – nice that three Final Four appearances are backing up the guy with no Final Four appearances) they could do a lot better than people expect. Of course, they could also blow up and lead to about 1,000 columns about what is wrong with basketball in the US.
  4. Incoming Toledo freshman Justin Moss had his basketball career cut short last week when he was found to have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy after failing a routine physical at the end of June. Fortunately, Justin was found to have the condition on screening rather than after an event like the ones that killed Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis. We discussed the issue in depth several months ago after a piece in a medical journal noted an increased risk of sudden cardiac death in Division 1 men’s basketball players. While there are many more causes of sudden cardiac death (various arrhythmias being a notable one) hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most well-known. Although we feel bad that Justin’s career had to end before he ever got to step on a college basketball floor we are much happier that it was diagnosed before we had another tragedy on our hands.
  5. We can’t keep track of how many columns we have read about major AAU recruits over the past month, but if you were either overwhelmed by the amount of data being tossed at you on Twitter or you didn’t have enough time to follow all of the recruits, we have a couple of solid round-up pieces on the action for the class of 2012. Seth Davis takes a look at the top rising seniors (and two juniors) and analyzes their games along with how they will fit into their reported college choices. Over at ESPN, Eamonn Brennan and Dave Telep recap the recruiting prospects for the top uncommitted rising seniors with some thoughts on where they might end up. Honestly, if you read those two pieces you will probably know about as much about the rising senior class as anybody who didn’t spend the past month living out of a suitcase watching games that vaguely resemble organized basketball.
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